Beginnings

beginnings

I wonder how many “firsts” or beginnings there are in life. First breath, first step, first love. Beginning of the month, beginning of a new school year, beginning of hopes and dreams. If every day brings a fresh beginning and every end a start of something new, the number of changes and adjustments we make through our lifetime must equal an infinite number.

The beginning of our homeschool year started on a high note. The first days were excellent. Our schedule flowed smoothly and we were excited to dive into new books and curriculum. But as things often go, the novelty soon wore of and by Thursday reality hit. Summer was over and the idea that a good part of our day would be consumed with schooling started to sink in. We were exhausted from reigniting parts of our brains that seemed content to linger in vacation mode.

Grumpiness and discontent started to weasel their way into our Thursday morning activities. Short answers and ungracious responses added to the rocky start of the day. With determination, I pushed through my planned activities and the lessons. The activities and lessons I was so sure we “needed” to cover. My kids tried to keep up but the whole day felt forced. This was not why we homeschool or how I like to teach or how I wanted my children to learn. We managed to get through the day but I decided to call a time out and push the reset button. Friday was going to be different.

My Friday lesson plans looked like any other day of the week but it was my expectation of what “needed” to be completed that was different. The pace was led by my kids. If one subject was dragging on or frustration levels with a new skills were rising high, we stopped and moved to something else, returning to the subjects and tasks later. We spent more time on science and read alouds, which we all enjoy, and we focused on our attitudes. I was convicted of my role in modeling a good attitude and gracious responses and my children soon followed suite. I am not saying that it was a perfect day. Curriculum still needed to be covered and some difficult skills still needed to be mastered but there were other things needed to be addressed first. The foundation of an ideal learning environment needed to be rebuilt, one that included a whole lot of grace and a lot of love.

With every new beginning, I think it is important to remember these things:

1.) Make space for grace. Give grace to yourself, to your co-workers, family members, strangers, whoever else may be joining you in a new start. Beginnings and starts require change and adjustment. Adjustment takes time. There may be new things to learn and new ways of doing things. Shifts in mindset may be required too. Allow grace and patience in the process.

2.) Take time to breathe. Deep breaths. It sounds simple but few people take more than a few deep breaths a day. Deep breathing helps your muscles to relax and delivers oxygen to all cells in your body. It also helps attention and concentration. For an even better and more impactful result, pray while you are breathing!

3.) Stop and reflect. Contrary to popular belief, we need to pause, stop, and rest. Allow time for reflection and think what can be done differently. Ask yourself, what is my role? How can I use my gifts, talents, and personality to help improve this situation or make this adjustment easier?  Can I be a good role model for others even as I make mistakes and am learning through the process? Focus on the good things. There are always good things to find.

Now in our second week of school, skills are getting more difficult and the amount of curriculum to cover is increasing but there is a sense of peace. I am trying to keep a gentle pace to our day. We are still adjusting, slightly mourning the loss of summer, but we know there are some new exciting things are to come.

 

 

 

 


Homeschool Week #2 Wrap Up-Measure of Success

Measure of Success

Well, this week was not as “successful” as last week. My attention was divided into a thousand different directions as I have been preparing to leave for the MOPS International’s Leadership Convention- MOMcon.

There is so much to do before I leave. Between church ministries and meetings,  MOPS start up plans and Coaching, finding childcare for the kids while I am away, packing, household chores, laundry AND homeschooling, the week went by in a blur of checklists and details. Before I knew it, Friday had appeared and I found myself saying there’s just not enough TIME!

Feeling a bit defeated and comparing this week to last, I started asking myself what exactly does success looks like in our homeschooling. Is it the amount of material that we cover? The number of skills the girls master in a week? Staying on task and lesson objectives met? Having fun together? Spending quality time? What is it?

Every day we completed all of our reading, language arts, and math lessons.  We managed to do some fun Labor Day activities and made some fantastic smelling playdough. Science and social studies lessons flowed naturally through our days and we read a lot of books together.  That sounds successful, right?

There is an incredible amount of thought, research, and writing about success. Briefly, success is the accomplishment of an goal or purpose. It can be measured in terms of objective (measurable terms, salary, promotion, accomplishments) or subjective (emotional and psychological responses- happiness, joy, pride, feelings ) situations.  Within areas of your life, you can have both objective and subjective goals and success. “Subjective success is an individual’s response to an objective situation. “1  A Harvard Business Review article gives an example of a corporate lawyer who has a great compensation package and position but has not met her life-long goal of becoming a Supreme Court judge so she doesn’t feel successful.

This is what happened to me this week. We met all of the objective goals I had for homeschooling. Academically, we were right on target and I was happy with the amount of curriculum we accomplished.  But it was my subjective goals that left me feeling less than satisfied. One of the biggest goals I have for myself is to be more present and less over committed. This week, I felt like I did not do this well. Therefore, I felt unsuccessful.

Timing is everything. Not every week will be one like this one. I travel only once a year! The details of church ministries and MOPS start up are not usually happening all at one time. This just is a very busy time. It is important to keep evaluating how I am spending my time, keep saying “no” when presented an opportunity that will stress our schedule, and making time to rest and connect with people in a way each person deserves. Beyond that, I also think that it is important to look at homeschool success with the whole picture in mind and look beyond those subjective feelings. So reevaluating, I think that I should rephrase my first sentence and say that this week was certainly different (and BUSIER) than the first but it was equally successful measured in different ways.

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A Few Highlights:

1.) POM-POM SORTING: I made something new for my littlest one to do during school. This task works on fine motor, sorting, and color recognition skills. It took about 5 minutes to set up and it was inexpensive! I had everything I needed in the house and it is completely reusable. Just have to change the color on the top of the lid and the color of pop-poms to sort!

Sorting Pom-Poms Sorting Pom-Poms

2.) APPLE PIE PLAYDOUGH- A new recipe that I found on Pinterest, this playdough smells AMAZING!  A small, welcomed whiff of fall in the abnormal, ninety degree weather we are having in the Northeast. You can find the recipe here—> http://jugglingactmama.com/2014/09/apple-pie-scented-play-dough.html

Apple Pie Playdough Apple Pie Playdough

3.)ANTONYM WORK- We did a lot of work with antonyms this week. We defined antonyms and identified pairs when we read. The Foot Book and Old Hat, New Hat  are great books for this activity. After we read The Foot Book, I traced the girls’ feet and they illustrated a pair of antonyms they chose.

Antonyms

Antonyms Antonyms

How was your week?